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The soothing sound of water

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By Debby Looney, gardening expert

Finally the weather has arrived - those lovely sunny days where we can sit back, relax and enjoy the fruits of our labour. The garden furniture is out, parasols are up and the barbecue is lit.

The weeding is done, the grass is cut and the pots are watered. Bored much? Well, if you are like me, and need something to do – especially when the weather is fine - how about a water feature? The sound of water is well-known to be relaxing, so maybe that will be the key to finally sitting down and reading a book!

Apart from its calming qualities, water in the garden is important from an ecological point. You will notice the biodiversity in your garden grow as soon as you add water, and it is uncanny how quickly dragonflies find it! Water features do not need to be a particularly work intensive project, it can be anything from a plastic barrel to a large natural pond. I have seen some beautiful plastic barrels with a floating pot with waterlillies inside it and a floating solar light – small but effective. You can also buy a huge range of ready to use, easy to install water features – you literally fill them up with a few litres of water, plug them in and the job is done.

Alternatively, you can build your own pond, which is quite a straightforward project. Decide on a spot and start digging out your pond – the size will depend on you, the depth should always be at least 40cm. If you wish to grow water lilies, you will need to go a bit deeper. Lining a pond can be done with EPDM rubber if you want to shape it yourself. An old carpet or some insulation underneath will protect the liner from tearing on stones.

A layer of sand will do the trick. There are also preformed liners available which are very practical and easy to install. They are usually stepped which allows you to put in different water plants at the edges. These are definitely the quickest and easiest options. To maintain clarity of water, and to prevent algal growth, it is vital to aerate the water.

The simplest way to do this, without the use of a filtration system, is to create running water. Pumps are readily available and relatively cheap. The smallest usually start at about €40. Pumps are sold in two ways, by the amount of water they pump per hour, and by the lift they give.

A pump which pumps at 450L per hour will usually give a lift of one metre to the water – so you can install a small fountain. Pumps then go up in size, depending on what you need. I have a small pump in my pond, set at half the speed, which circles my water up and around the pond to the opposite, rising gradually to give a fall over stones of about 30cm. This creates a small amount of movement within the pond so that it does not stagnate, it oxygenates as it flows over the stones and it creates that soothing sound of water gently splashing back into the pond. An effort well worth making!

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Valuable role of Kerry cancer support charity recognised nationally

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Cancer support charity Recovery Haven Kerry has been recognised for its vital role in supporting cancer patients and their families at a national ceremony in Dublin.

The renowned cancer support house was one of 16 such centres across Ireland that were presented with plaques to acknowledge their full membership of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) Alliance – a group made up of voluntary and charity organisations delivering support services directly to cancer patients and their families. An additional 10 associate member charities were also honoured, including Kerry Cancer Support Group.

The Alliance advocates for, and supports, the development of integrated pathways between the cancer centres, acute hospitals, community cancer support services and primary care services. All members’ development is in line with the values of Sláintecare, seeking to provide assurance to healthcare professionals that these organisations are working to an agreed standard as set out in Best Practice Guidance published by the NCCP. 

Speaking after the ceremony, which was held at Dublin’s Farmleigh Estate, Recovery Haven Kerry Chairman, Tim McSwiney, explained that being compliant with the Best Practice Guidance for Community Cancer Support Centres is a true mark of quality. 

“It offers us a yardstick to measure what we are doing against the standards required. As a result, healthcare professionals have more confidence in referring people to our services. We are very proud to be a member of the Alliance,” he said.

Recovery Haven Kerry was represented at the event by centre manager, Gemma Fort and Client Services Co-Ordinator, Siobhan MacSweeney and were presented with their plaque by NCCP Lead for Cancer Survivorship, Louise Mullen, Clinical Lead for Psycho-Oncology Dr Helen Greally, and Minister of State at the Department of Health, Colm Burke. 

The event was also used as an opportunity to announce funding of €3m for the NCCP’s Alliance of Community Cancer Support Centres and Services through Budget 2024. The NCCP is currently in the process of distributing these funds which will directly and positively impact the delivery of services for patients and families nationally.

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‘More Precious Than Gold’ book launch

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At the official book launch of ‘More Precious Than Gold: My enduring connection with John McShain – the man who built Washington’ by Alice O’Neill-McLoughlin at Killarney House, was Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, T.D.

Alice was born the eldest of eleven children into an Irish farming family in Rosbercon, New Ross, County Wexford. In 1978, she was awarded a scholarship from John McShain- the iconic builder, philanthropist, devout Catholic with Derry ancestry, responsible for many famous American landmarks, including the Jefferson Memorial and the Pentagon.

Her book records the lifelong personal correspondence Alice exchanged with ‘The Man Who Built Washington.’ His philanthropy extended to the Irish people in the bequeathing to the State of Killarney House and the surrounding thousands of acres incorporating the Lakes, Ross Castle, and Innisfallen Island. In 2019, Alice had the honour of inducting John McShain into the Irish America Hall of Fame in her home town of New Ross in the presence of his relatives from Philadelphia and Derry. This is a tale of altruism, of gratitude, of faith and of a life lived in the pursuit of excellence.

Alice also donated her treasured correspondence of letters from John McShain for the archive at Killarney House. Also in attendance were Members of the Ignatius A. O’Shaughnessy family, who was founder of The Globe Oil and Refining Company – and part of a consortium of wealthy American businessmen who were going to purchase the lakes of Killarney as a Country Club in the 1950’s.

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